Sunday 12 February 2012

Aurora Based Nova Grid Shuts Down

Without warning Nova Grid has suddenly closed and the owner Enrico Ranucci has made no statement as to the reason why. Everyone appears to be left in the dark and I have asked many who might know something. They all say you know as much as I do so, on the face of it, it is looking like a silent closure although I have not heard of anyone losing money yet.

Nova was built up on the Aurora server code and some might have said this was premature given the highly experimental nature of the software. The developers still call it pre-alpha even but that's not to say the platform was not functional. Aurora sim is very advanced and fast. In many ways it is better than Opensim core, on which it is based. But it probably was too unstable for running a grid selling virtual land at this time. One source did say to me that Enrico was tired of the slow progress in Aurora sim development and it's true since Revolution Smythe took time out for his education that the project did seem to loose some of it's focus and momentum.

Personally. I still have a lot of faith in the Aurora project although I am now concentrating more of my time in OSgrid and developing a standalone with hypergrid connection to OSgrid. I still have a server running an Aurora instance but I am a bit disappointed myself too with the lack progress on the ODE physics engine. Currently, Revolution Smythe's improvements to ODE have improved motorized vehicles and aircraft a lot and they work far better than in Opensim but this, in turn, has broken wind sailing which was important to my role play game development involving Pirates and sea battles. Opensim ODE still functions better for wind sailing so in the face of slow progress in Aurora I have switched to working with Opensim again and I will wait to see how Aurora sim progresses. It must be said though, that, from what I have seen on Twitter recently, plenty of code commits are being made to Aurora sim at the present time so the closure of Nova in no way reflects on Aurora or puts that project in doubt.
Here is one of my sailing ships on my Auroroa-based standalone. On first linking the ship together and scripting it she sails fine but soon as I stand up and try again or take it to inventory and re-rez then she delinks herself as you see in the picture while she sail basically ok. On the other hand motor boats and helecopters fly brilliantly! Now, the trick will be to fix wind sailing too.

Enrico started out in Second Life then began renting sims in OSgrid through his company, New Voice. He launched Nova Grid very soon after the Aurora project began and probably relied on the rapid development promise coming from the team. Nova functioned much like OSgrid and anyone could connect their Aurora based standalone sims if they wanted to so a small community had started to develop although I do recall a serious loss of renters when there was a mishap with the asset storage code and a lot of inventories were wiped out - exactly the kind of thing that can happen with alpha software! Enrico was also a contributor and provided a sim on the Nova grid serving as a meeting place and HQ for Aurora devs. There were regular meetings at one time but this stopped back in September. More recently Enrico announced a 2012 offer of a cloud based sim for one year free and had previously reduced sim hosting to as little as $6 a month.

Without any facts I don't want to speculate what went wrong but I sure do think Enrico took on a huge challenge and appears to have been broken by it.